The Hacienda at Georgetown Will Open Late 2022 With Celebrated Chef, Stephan Pyles, as Chief Culinary Advisor

GEORGETOWN, TEXAS – The Hacienda at Georgetown will debut in late 2022 as part of Watermark Retirement Communities’ Élan Collection, the brand’s elite collection of senior communities crafted with luxury resort amenities. Located on 13 acres at the south entrance to Sun City Georgetown, The Hacienda at Georgetown will offer an unparalleled lifestyle for sophisticated seniors that includes engaging programming, extraordinary design, integrated indoor-outdoor spaces, and world-class culinary offerings created by celebrated chef Stephan Pyles.

Often referred to as the “founding father of Southwestern Cuisine,” Chef Stephan Pyles will bring his signature New Texas Cuisine to The Hacienda at Georgetown’s four dining venues, including a restaurant and bar open to the public. This restaurant will be the region’s first fine-dining establishment located in a senior living community and once open is expected to be one of the area’s most in-demand dining destinations. In addition to the new fine-dining restaurant, Chef Pyles will define the overall direction for each of the property’s other three dining venues, including the development of concepts, menus, presentations and kitchen design.  Chef Pyles will also host a series of special events including cooking demonstrations and wine dinners at the new community.

“Food brings us together as nothing else can, shaping our memories and empowering our communities,” said Chef Stephan Pyles. “Food truly transcends all boundaries and feeds our lifelong need to discover, which is a vital element in a long and healthy life. I’m especially looking forward to being a part of the property’s innovative community restaurant, which will be a welcome addition to the city. It will provide a new opportunity to bring together Georgetown residents of all ages to gather, dine well, and create new memories under one roof.”

In addition to The Hacienda at Georgetown’s culinary offerings, ranging from a fine dining venue to a casual café and bar, the community will promote vibrancy and longevity through a robust suite of programming and amenities including a specially designed outdoor amphitheater and a fully equipped wellness center with a salon, spa, club rooms, fitness center, theater, meditation garden and a luxury resort-like pool with cabanas.

“Offering a seamless and exceptional lifestyle are hallmarks of the Watermark experience, and The Hacienda at Georgetown will be no exception,” said David Freshwater, Chairman of Watermark Retirement Communities. “We’re excited to add The Hacienda at Georgetown to our prestigious Élan Collection and open the community with one of Texas’ most celebrated chefs at its helm. Chef Pyles will further enhance the daily lives of our residents and create an impactful relationship between our property and the Georgetown community.”

A fifth-generation Texan with a career spanning four decades, Pyles has opened 23 restaurants in six cities over the past 32 years and remains to this day one of Texas’ most successful and influential chefs. Most notably, Pyles is the first chef from the Southwest to win a James Beard Award for Best Chef and was the first Texan inducted into Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. He has been named Chef of the Year by seven publications, including Esquire Magazine, and has been nominated for 18 additional awards from the James Beard Foundation. He is a four-time cookbook author and has been host of an Emmy-award winning PBS Television series.

Bon Appetit has also recognized him for his lasting impact on Texas’ culinary scene and named him Chef of the Year in 2006.

The Hacienda at Georgetown is being developed through a strategic partnership between Watermark Retirement Communities, MedCore Partners, a Dallas-based healthcare and medical real estate group and The National Realty Group, a Houston-based full-service commercial and industrial real estate company. Dallas-based architecture and planning firm, REES Associates, and Austin-based award-winning interior design studio, Studio Six5, are collaborating on the design for the community. Tulsa-based ACRON USA is providing LP Equity for the project.

Reservations are being accepted for Independent Living one- and two-bedroom residences. For more information, please visit or call 512.591.0100.

Well-Known Author and Chef Michael J. Longo, CEC, Named Executive Chef for Legend of Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO –Legend Senior Living reaffirmed its reputation for and emphasis on culinary excellence in senior living by naming Michael J. Longo, CEC to the top chef position at its new Legend of Colorado Springs Assisted Living and Memory Care residence, which opensJanuary 5, 2021. Legend of Colorado Springs will be the 40th senior living community for the Wichita-based company, with residences in six states.

“We’re exceedingly fortunate –and needless to say excited –to have a renowned chef and culinary master such as Michael Longo leading our team of chefs and staff,” said Karen Stewart, Residence Director for Legend of Colorado Springs.“Our new community in the Springs is groundbreaking in so many ways. Michael’s vision and rich, unique background will take the Legend culinary experience to heights worthy of our Rocky Mountain view.”

Longo is an award-winning Certified Executive Chef and the author of two cookbooks: Let’s Take a Leek: a book about a Chef, fabulous Soups, and a slightly different sense of humor and The St. Joseph’s Table –a Sicilian Tradition. Chef Michael has worked at such esteemed culinary venues as The Broadmoor Hotel, Glen Eyrie Conference Center, where he was instrumental in starting the wonderful Madrigal tradition. He also owned and operatedNana Longo’s Restaurant and First Impressions Catering.

“Rarely does a chef have the chance to realize a vision from the ground up and then personally see that vision materialize,” said Longo of his new position. “When you do, you call on every single skill and experience in your book. Legend has charged me with creating a unique experience for residents, in a new cutting-edge community –pardon the pun, but here it’s appropriate.”

Speaking of books, Longo has turned his experience into two popular cookbooks with unique and often humorous accounts of the chef’s life. His interests are a diverse menu: He has judged both professional and amateur culinary competitions throughout the Front Range.When he is not enjoying free time with his wife, Pam, two sons and grandchildren, Longois an avid fisherman, rod builder and fly tier, a hobby he actually turned into a mission. While Executive Chef for The Springs Rescue Mission, Longo began the ministry of “Fisher of Men” to introduce the joy of angling to people in the program.

Longo earned his status as a Certified Executive Chef, Art and Science of Culinary Preparation, from the American Culinary Federation, a distinction he has maintained for more than 25 years as a chef. “My experience in senior living goes back a decade. Legend’s mission to serve is so well-aligned with my own that it feels like it was meant to be,” said Longo. “And I’ll tell you one thing about preparing food for older adults. They have the most discerning tastes and open minds of any diners. It’s a fun and joyful experience to design a menu that covers everything from traditional American favorites to haute cuisine.”

“Besides looking forward to the leadership of this unique talent –we’re all just very anxious to taste his food,” added Stewart.

About Legend Senior Living:Legend Senior Living® is a privately held senior housing and services company based in Wichita, Kansas. Legend owns and operates 40residences –independent living, assisted living, memory care, and personal care–in Florida, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Legend of Colorado Springs is set to open January 5, 2021 and Windsor Pointe of Jacksonville will become Legend’s 41st community when it opens later inthe year. Legend has just been certified as a Great Place to Work® for the third consecutive year

Watercrest’s Signature Program ‘Aprons & Appetizers’ Ignites the Senses for Watercrest Senior Living Residents

VERO BEACH, Fla, – From dark chocolate bark and raspberry muffins to tropical fruit smoothies, the residents at Watercrest Senior Living communities are enlivening their senses and igniting memories of culinary passions through Watercrest’s signature program ‘Aprons & Appetizers.’ Designed with evidence-based research, the program introduces multi-sensory, handcrafted, nutritionally wholesome small plates to improve quality of life and nutrition for seniors.

“The Aprons & Appetizers program gives our residents purpose along with socialization, while also providing nutrition,” says Angela Bowden, Watercrest’s Regional Director of Operations. “These are all critical elements to our resident’s physical and spiritual wellbeing.”

Designed by a registered nutritionist and award-winning dementia expert, ‘Aprons & Appetizers’ is part of Watercrest’s Live ExhilaratedÔ program, and a signature offering for residents of Watercrest communities.  The curated small plates program features a wide array of decadent desserts, delicious drinks, and delectable bites. Each specifically designed “snacktivity” maximizes nutrition while satisfying even the most discerning palate. Residents work alongside Watercrest’s trained culinary team as they offer chef-led demonstrations, resident prepared dishes, and the excitement of cooking competitions. Each thoughtfully planned activity ignites residents’ purpose and passion one recipe at a time.

“Watercrest’s Aprons & Appetizers program allows our residents to stimulate their senses through the touch, sight, taste, sound and smells of preparing various foods,” says Sheena Jeffries, Watercrest’s Regional Director of Engagement.  “Research has proven these factors are instrumental in sparking memories and maintaining mind-health for individuals living with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related illness.”

The Live Exhilarated™ program was created to focus on the active pursuit of ‘personal wholeness’ for each resident. The program includes thoughtfully planned, multi-part programs inspired by individual resident’s passions and interests which align with the seven facets of wholeness: Get Active, Be Curious, Get Connected, Be Uplifted, Get Creative, Be Social, Be Adventurous.

Watercrest Senior Living has a unique approach to healthy aging, focusing on individuals achieving personal wholeness through participation in programs aligned with the seven facets of wholeness.  These facets provide the Live Exhilarated™ program framework which focuses on celebrating the residents’ story, encouraging their pursuit of new passions, optimizing their experience, and offering variety and choice to all residents.

Watercrest Senior Living Group was founded by Marc Vorkapich, CEO, and Joan Williams, CFO, to honor our mothers and fathers, aspiring to become a beacon for quality in senior living by surpassing standards of care, service and associate training.  Watercrest senior living communities are recognized for their luxury aesthetic, exceptional amenities and world-class care, and their innovative Market Street Memory Care Residences offer unparalleled service to seniors living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.


A certified Great Place to Work, Watercrest specializes in the development and operations of senior living communities and the growth of servant leaders.  Visit


Kfir Kertes

Kfir Kertes Joins the $330 Million Watermark at Brooklyn Heights Luxury Senior Community In Brooklyn, NY as Executive Chef

Brooklyn, NY – Renowned chef Kfir Kertes has joined The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights, a 275-unit luxury seniors housing residence at 21 Clark Street, opening in summer 2020, as Executive Chef.

The $330 million Brooklyn Heights property is one of five managed by Watermark Retirement Communities in their Élan Collection. This lifestyle brand of premier properties offers personal service with grand scale amenities. An extensive renovation and redevelopment of the historic Clark Street property into Brooklyn’s first luxury senior living community is currently nearing completion.

“At The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights, we consider every meal to be a celebration of good taste, good health, and good company. We are delighted to welcome Kfir Kertes as our Executive Chef and are confident that his culinary expertise will maintain the high standards we have set for our members,” said Executive Director Rocco Bertini.

“I am passionate about the creation of exciting dishes with attractive presentation and incredible taste. I also hope to set a higher bar for gourmet expectations throughout the luxury senior living industry,” stated Kertes. “Our dining team will be creating exciting daily specials, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, that will offer variety and engage our members. Many of our dishes will be based on the Mediterranean culinary tradition, known for its health and wellness benefits,” he added.

Kertes will direct all culinary operations, develop daily and seasonal menus, and will work closely with nutritionists and dieticians to translate members’ tastes and preferences into attractive, nutritious options that will offer superior quality while addressing individual needs. He will create custom menus for the property opening and other special events. Kertes will also oversee hiring, onboarding, and staff training for the food preparation personnel. Upon reaching full occupancy, The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights’ dining staff will total up to 75 people, including the kitchen crew of 30.

The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights will offer several restaurant options. On the first floor, the Willow + Clark Café, a European-inspired casual café and bistro, and The Biblio, an intimate library and wine bar, provide welcoming spaces that foster gatherings with family and fellow members. The 50,000-square-foot Dining and Entertainment Level features The W Room, a stunning two-story formal restaurant and bar that serves three restaurant-style meals each day, and Gustoso & Family, an Mediterraneaninspired exhibition kitchen centered around a wood-burning brick hearth. A private dining room is also available for special functions.

Menus will feature favorite recipes of both chefs and members, prepared in small batches and finished to order.  House baked breads and freshly prepared desserts will be served each day. Room service will be available for residents who prefer to dine in their apartments. Finally, Gourmet Bites, Watermark’s signature culinary program, restores the joy of dining for individuals living with physical, neuromuscular and cognitive changes through meticulously curated menus of high quality, freshly prepared bite-sized dishes with modified textures and enhanced appearances and aromas that are easy to eat and appealing to residents.

Prior to joining Watermark, Kertes served as Executive Chef for Rockstar Hotels, Club Quarters, and Z NYC Hotel, all located in New York, NY. Previously, he managed special projects in Africa and Israel and worked as a chef and manager for several Israeli hotels and restaurants.


Watermark at Brooklyn Heights

Located in the heart of the fashionable Brooklyn Heights Historic District, the 350,000-square foot property was originally constructed in 1928 as the Leverich Towers Hotel, which served as a haven for many celebrities and cultural icons, including the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1975, Watchtower purchased The Towers as housing for their local Jehovah’s Witness volunteer force and restored the intricate architectural features that defined the building’s place in the Brooklyn Heights Historical District. The current renovation preserves much of the building’s original structure and history while adding a stylish interior. At 16 stories, with a breathtaking rooftop terrace, garden, and Skyline club room, The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights will offer sweeping views of New York Harbor, the Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.

The building’s 275 apartments include 145 for independent living, 88 for assisted living, and 42 for memory care. The residences are offered in 78 different floor plans, uniquely configured, and harmoniously designed to embrace the building’s rich heritage. Ranging from studios to one- and two-bedrooms, the apartments at The Watermark will cater to each member’s tastes, space requirements, and preferences. Apartments are all thoughtfully crafted with an open floor arrangement and feature designer kitchens or kitchenettes and modern bathrooms with walk-in showers. Expansive, vintage mahogany-trimmed windows allow for abundant natural light and spectacular views. The mahogany windows and their surroundings were protected during construction and integrated into the new design. The details throughout the project recall the building’s days as a sophisticated venue frequented by celebrities of the time.

On the first level, the light-filled grand lobby leads to welcoming spaces including a café, wood-paneled library, wine bar, salon, and contemporary art gallery. The Dining and Entertainment level includes an upscale, full-service restaurant; a European-style restaurant with an exhibition kitchen; a movie theater; and a live performing arts center. An indoor heated swimming pool, fitness center, movement room, and wellness center are available on the Fitness and Wellness level. On the 16th floor, a rooftop clubroom with terraces offers comfortable seating and breathtaking views of Manhattan.

Givens Estates’ Expansion Nears Halfway Point; Dining Experience A Key

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Givens Estates retirement community embarked on a $33 million expansion and redevelopment project scheduled to open in 2021 that will enrich the lives of current and future residents. The new neighborhood, Friendship Park, is set in the heart of campus and will offer two buildings with 80 upscale and spacious apartment homes. In addition to the Friendship Park expansion, Givens Estates is investing in an $9.5 million project involving the Oxford Commons building on the campus. The project involves renovations and expansion to include three new dining venues, a wellness gym addition, and a new exterior terrace.

“The renovation will allow us to provide the atmosphere and amenities our residents expect while also bringing new ideas and creativity to the table,” said John Cowan, executive director of Givens Estates. “We want to compete at the highest level when it comes to the restaurant and dining experience, hospitality, and providing older adults with a vibrant and versatile culture.”

Each new dining option has its own personality, catering to an array of preferences and needs. An inviting gathering space designed to be a social hub for the community, The Social Brew is a resident-centered place for meeting friends and enjoying small plates from a diverse menu morning and evening. With a homelike environment and open seating for about 110 people, Market + Craft will offer a variety of stations featuring made-to-order items with fresh ingredients such as specialty salads, custom sandwiches, and carved meats. Residents can also order carryout items or select from a bakery with assorted fresh breads and pastries.Terrene will offer a more upscale, table-waited service for residents and their guests who prefer a more intimate dining experience. The centerpiece of the restaurant revolves around the French cooking suite, letting guests experience the chef’s creations during food preparation.

“Our vision is to build innovative, high-quality dining venues that offer residents more choices and exceptional culinary experiences,” said Kenneth Jenzen, dining services director. “Our overall goals for the expansion and modernization are resident-centered.”

Oxford Commons’ wellness center expansion will add 1,200 square feet for a new exercise studio, enlarged yoga, and aerobics studio, and dedicated therapy suite. The new area will offer more challenging activities such as spin classes and rowing and will be expanded to accommodate more people and a growing population of older adults.

Recent Census Bureau reports show more than 20% of Buncombe County residents are 65 years or older. With aging baby boomers, these numbers are expected to grow substantially over the next 10 years. This project is vital to positioning Givens Estates to serve the needs of its residents for the next 20 years.

Before Givens Estates started on this project, the leadership team underwent a thorough planning process. The team solicited feedback from consumer focus groups with current residents, future residents, and staff to determine which aspects of dining and wellness needed updating based on their expectations. Finally, they held in-depth discussions with industry consultants in dining, architecture, and construction to design the renovations thoughtfully.

Givens Estates has partnered with North Carolina-based Frank L. Blum Construction Company in the building of the community. Construction of Oxford Commons is anticipated to be completed by spring 2021, and Friendship Park is slated for fall 2021.

Sharon Towers Launches Pop-up Grocery and Pharmacy

“COVID-19 forced our retirement community as well as others to adapt and become innovative,” said Milton McGowian, director of culinary at Sharon Towers. “We created a pop-up grocery store and pharmacy for our residents and also made those available to our team members. We wanted to be safe. Residents living independently could no longer shop for themselves, and we didn’t want team members going out shopping at grocery stores because of the risk there.”

McGowian, also a current Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) student specializing in Nonprofit Management and Leadership through Liberty Online University Programs, was challenged by Sharon Towers CEO Anne Moffat to find a solution to team members having to shop for residents, which was too time-consuming and posed a risk to those team members.

The pop-up grocery program launched on March 24 with an electronic form via a link sent to every resident and employee. The form offers hundreds of items in categorized drop-down menus. Residents input their name and address for delivery direct to their apartment, cottage or villa.

The food items come from distributors who sell in bulk and deliver to Sharon Towers. Staff then sort and deliver groceries to residents.

“It’s a win-win situation,” McGowian said. “Residents are happy they don’t have to go out. They order about twice a week. Not only does the new system help limit their exposure, but it helps our team members because they just don’t have the time to shop since they’re working all day. Everyone gets a better price with us because we buy wholesale.”

With Sharon Towers’ fine dining areas closed due to the pandemic, McGowian determined that dishes like lamb chops, filet mignon, and lobster tail could be delivered in vacuum-sealed packaging to preserve the taste.

“The specialty dining system has allowed us to reinvent what we do and tell the residents, ‘If you can’t come to our dining room and enjoy the food, we’re going to bring it to you,’” he said.

In April, McGowian organized a pop-up pharmacy with its own Over-the-Counter Health and Wellness form for ordering and delivery, which is managed by Carmen Murphy, community outreach coordinator.

Regular updates on the campus website keep families informed of the continuation of policies that visitor restrictions apply to the campus, not just buildings, as these types of visits could potentially expose loved ones to COVID-19.

A sink by the main front door which was created by Topper Amerson, owner’s representative, and Cory Stepanski, director of facilities, requires anyone going inside to wash their hands first, and employees are screened for coronavirus symptoms and get their temperature taken every day. Employees and residents showing symptoms of COVID-19 are tested.

“We’re still delivering meals three times a day, and our innovations have allowed us to share best practices with the senior living industry,” said McGowian.

Sharon Towers offers independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care. Founded in 1969 by Presbyterian leaders in Charlotte, the not-for-profit community is home to approximately 330 residents on a wooded, 28-acre campus on Sharon Road in the heart of SouthPark.

Food Services Workers Disproportionately Put Out of Work Due to Covid-19 Could be Redeployed to Fill Vital Senior Care Employment Needs

Long-term care facilities, which have long struggled with staffing shortages, could be the answer for food and hospitality service workers in need of immediate and long-term stable employment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To curb the spread of the virus, hundreds of thousands of food service and hospitality workers have lost their jobs, as government-mandated shutdowns of restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses were issued to enforce social distancing policies. Even when shelter-in-place mandates are over, it stands to reason many restaurants will not reopen and their resurgence will take time.

The pool of workers who have been displaced by this pandemic is growing with New York’s Union Square Hospitality Group laying off about 80% of its workforce and nearly 6.65 million Americans filing for unemployment in the past two weeks. This number is expected to continue to increase, as the national response to coronavirus strengthens resulting in more COVID-19-related layoffs.

The need for long-term care workers is on the rise, as the direct care workforce is projected to add more than 1.3 million new jobs between 2018 and 2028 according to PHI, an association for long-term care workers. This projection doesn’t yet take into consideration the number of jobs needed now during this pandemic. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this growth rate is faster than the average for all occupations. An additional 6.9 million direct care jobs will also need to be filled during that time as existing workers leave the field or exit the workforce.

Senior care facilities have an opportunity to both meet an emerging need and fill the ever-growing gap in quality staffing, while simultaneously providing employment for those whose jobs were cut to protect our healthcare delivery system and the most vulnerable in our society. These facilities can offer workers steady full-time or part-time shifts and the opportunity to receive certifications in specialized areas of care during this interim.

Long-term care work can be an attractive option for workers looking to build upon their skills. Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) are an ideal starting point for food service and hospitality workers looking to pursue a career in long-term care. CNAs assist patients with daily living activities that require the same level of attention to detail needed in the hospitality and food service industries.

Traditionally, CNA certification requires participants to enroll in local programs, complete a state-approved education course and competency exam. As the national response to COVID-19 increases, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has relaxed its CNA licensure requirements during the pandemic, making it easier for new staffers to begin assisting residents and patients with care.

CMS is also removing requirements that mandated specific state licensure. While not permanent, these relaxed regulations will expedite the process of becoming a CNA, allowing staff members to gain new skills quickly and putting them on a direct path towards more employment opportunities.

There is an opportunity for senior care facilities to act fast to match displaced hospitality and food service workers with senior care and health care jobs that will utilize their skills and allow them to thrive professionally.

Food service and hospitality workers already possess many of the same skills that are needed to be successful in senior care delivery. At the core of these industries is the need for exceptional customer service and ability to work to and meet standards. Just as these workers strive to give customers a premier dining experience, long-term care workers seek to provide residents with high-quality care and comfort. Likewise, both occupations require a strong attention to detail, cleanliness and hygiene, an eye for presentation and the ability to think quickly and problem-solve.

These foundational skills can translate well into care-based settings and will maintain operations as new personnel receive more job-specific training.

Providers looking to hire new staff and retain current employees should offer evenhanded scheduling and the option for split shifts, to ensure that staff is getting proper rest and residents’ needs are being met.

Providers should also consider digital avenues to bolster recruitment. Building a communication with local hospitality union groups could provide opportunities to offer digital ads directly with that workforce. Hosting a digital job fair will also give prospective candidates an opportunity to learn more about the benefits of working in a long-term care setting and ask questions about the industry.

Increasing care connectivity through telehealth options will better utilize staff and be attractive to hospitality workers looking for new employment opportunities. Telehealth systems that allow for residents to receive virtual clinical visits will mitigate exposure to bacteria and viruses and give staff extra time to complete their workloads. When time is of the essence for residents and staff, virtual visits deliver on both fronts.

As senior care facilities cater to those who are most vulnerable to this virus, they have a responsibility to help the food service and hospitality workers whose jobs and welfare were sacrificed to protect the healthcare delivery system. Hiring restaurant and hospitality workers wherever possible is a way to both meet an industry need and help those who have great skills and need opportunities.